Dingo’s Rant

7 09 2010

Our resident Aussie contributor, Dingo, comments on why characters and the unexpected are good for sport in the first of what he assures us will be a regular feature. Feel free to disagree with him…

Freddie making things interesting

Andrew Flintoff is a wonderful cricket player. If you were to merely glance at his statistics you would notice that they were not amongst the best of all time – yet still he is considered a great cricketer. If you didn’t know better you would be forgiven for asking why and to me it comes down to two incidents. One of course is during the 2005 Ashes – everybody remembers the immortal picture of Freddie consoling a distraught Brett Lee instead of celebrating victory with his team mates. Assuredly a powerful image. The second incident came during the 2007 world cup at the unusual time of about 3am in the morning following a defeat to New Zealand; drunkenly falling off a pedalo after a drinking session that went on a little too long – brilliant as far as I’m concerned.

You see I love sport. I’m a huge fan; watching, playing, discussing. Love it. However I’m not the guy who remembers every statistic. I don’t actually care who won the last premiership, who has the most gold medals at  the Olympics, who has the best stats for any given season – I love it because it’s fun. It’s fun like getting drunk and falling off a pedalo.

Now don’t get me wrong; I understand sport is not only a game but also a business. You represent your country, your team mates and your sponsors (hang on while I yawn). But crucially sport also desperately needs characters as this is when it becomes more than just a bunch of numbers. When sport becomes a reflection of human frailty it suddenly becomes interesting.

Don’t tell me you would have enjoyed watching cricket more if the Aussies didn’t sledge. Do you remember, for example, this classic: With Australia playing Zimbabwe and the great Glenn McGrath bowling at a chubby part time cricketer, part time farmer, Eddo Brandes who also happened to be the Zimbabwe No 11; unable to get him out he enquired of Brandes, “Why are you so fat?” Quick as a flash he replies; “’cause every time I make love to your wife, she gives me a biscuit.” Even the other Aussies were in hysterics.

Undoubtedly there is room for frivolity and ridiculousness in sport. The same reason, I for one, don’t want to see Springbok coach, Pieter DeVilliers go – because he’s funny and is guaranteed to enliven any press conference. When other coaches read straight from the dull interview handbook of trite, repetitive comments, he enlightens us with tales of conspiracy theories and personal attacks. I love it.

In Australia right now the two biggest sports domestically are in a battle for media and financial supremacy; rugby league and Australian Rules. Yes the action is exciting on the field, but the real selling point to both these sports is the drama off it. Every day the tabloids are filled with with tales of adultery, nightclub brawls and betting scandals. In a funny way it’s what links us to our heroes (not that I’ve destroyed a hotel room or brawled in a pub I assure you), but it’s that they’re human and, subject to that, make mistakes on and off the field often with hilarious consequences. The more they behave like humans, the more we are drawn into their lives.

I believe sport would suffer without its characters. It would suffer without its heroes and its villains. Everyone wants to see a hard fought contest but they also want to see that same guy do something ridiculous when you’re least expecting it.

So here’s a thank-you to Andy Powell and his golf cart; Freddie with his pedalo. Here’s a thanks to Pakistani no-balls and Ponting tantrums. To Rooney and his prostitutes and David Hayes eternal gloating. Thank-you Tiger Woods. Thank-you Bakkies Botha. Thank-you John McEnroe. Thank-you to the real reason sport is so addictive – its characters.

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5 responses

7 09 2010
Bradders

Don’t agree with you totally Mike although yes it undoubtedly makes it more interesting. For example we could do without the Pakistani no balls and the less wholesome revelations coming out of NRL and AFL…

7 09 2010
Deb Jackson

I have to agree with Bradders on this one Mike.. Sport is awesome in every fashion but when people start to change outcomes for the sake of money it is a very sad thing to see. A hard fought fair contest in every code is what draws us crazy sports fans to watch and if they behave like fools off the arena who really cares as long as they dont hurt anyone but themselves along the way! No matter how silly these sports heroes can be I will always continue to enjoy watching every aspect of competitive sport as long as I know its not rigged!

7 09 2010
dingo

You’re dead right, I also don’t condone a fixed contest, I believe the no-ball incident was to do with spot fixing, not match rigging. However I was merely stating that sport is enhanced with all its villians, as well as heros.

8 09 2010
oz russell

You are certainly right to a point there dingo but I can go out on the weekend and witness first hand drunkeness and debauchery. The ridiculous money thrown at these individuals should ensure that performance on the field is unquestioned but just facilitates unrivaled ego. I too am a mad sports fan but am beginning to find the offield antics repetitive and simply boring. Highlighting to the impressionable that if you are successful you are allowed to act like a tit. Interesting topic though all the same. Look forward to the next rant!

8 09 2010
oz russell

In addition – I do agree we need the characters but there is a distinct difference between John McEnroes antics and an entire rugby team roasting a 17 year old!

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